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Sesamoid osteonecrosis treated with radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy


Sesamoid osteonecrosis is a disabling condition resulting in severe forefoot pain, for which there are limited treatment options. We present a 52-year-old man with 1-year history of pain, aggravated by walking and playing tennis. On examination, pain was localised to plantar aspect of the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Imaging revealed evolving end-stage avascular necrosis of lateral sesamoid with early secondary degenerative changes. Previous exhaustive conservative treatment had been unsuccessful in alleviating his pain. As an alternative to surgery, radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy (rESWT) was proposed. Treatment protocol was 2000 pulses at frequency of 5 Hz, and pressure was varied from 1.2 to 1.8 bar according to patient tolerance. A total of eight sessions were delivered. At completion of treatment, the patient reported minimal discomfort to no pain and was able to return to playing tennis with no recurrence. We propose rESWT to be an effective novel conservative treatment for sesamoid osteonecrosis.

  • Orthopaedics
  • Sports and exercise medicine

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